Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka and a human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) have defended the Operation Amotekun outfit launched last week by governors in the South West.
Soyinka who spoke at a press conference at his Kongi’s Harvest Art Gallery, Freedom Park, Lagos on Wednesday said the outfit is legal and constitutional and if the federal government has any objections that they should go to court.
“Amotekun is a result of meetings to curb menace in the region. Some people who have been sleeping all this time, taking belated actions while villages are been wiped out are now telling us this that people do not have right to flush out the evil ones among them which the exiting security outfits have not been able to do. I think they should go back to sleep because Amotekun has come to stay” Soyinka said.
“The initiative is quite legal and constitutional, and in any case the Federal Government should go to court. I have always believed passionately in self-policing. If it is possible to eliminate any kind of formal policing, I will be forward. But there is a need for an organised security. To say that the people do not have a right to defend their lives, secure a livelihood and flush out the evil elements and pick up the slack that existing securities are unable to fulfil is an enemy action and inhumane. Some people who have been sleeping all this while, taking belated actions, who watched all the security threats that citizens suffer saying the initiative is illegal and unconstitutional is unacceptable” he added.
In a separate statement, Falana said some northern states have Civilian Joint Task Force and Hisbah police.
Falana said, “In the North-East region, particularly Yobe and Borno, there is a civilian JTF, well-armed; and sometimes when the soldiers are afraid they ask the civilian JTF to go and confront Boko Haram.
“In Kano and Sokoto, you have Hisbah. Three weeks ago, Hisbah in Zamfara arrested a policeman; they said the policeman was caught in a hotel with three women and they said that was an abomination.
“The point I’m making is that the Nigerian state has collapsed; we are deceiving ourselves. What the (South-West) governors are doing is not more than the Neighbourhood Watch in Lagos. The only prohibition against any kind of group is in Section 227 of the Constitution – Nobody shall set up a military wing for political reasons.”